The Templar Order

The Templars were formed in 1118, when nine knights took holy vows to defend Jerusalem. In 1128, their founder received a blessing from the pope to formally form a new order of warrior knights. They adopted the order of St. Benedict and the white robes of the Cistercians and began recruiting. Men flocked to join, and were accepted in a hierarchical system of knights, sergeants (who wore black robes), farmers, and chaplains. Within fifty years, the order became one of the largest landowners not only in the Holy Land but in France and England. They became money lenders in the major cities, and were one of the finest fighting forces in the world. On the way to accumulating land, wealth, and the power that came with it, they established monasteries throughout Europe, called commanderies. We visited five such commanderies on Read more…

Valle Crucis Abbey

Valle Crucis Abbey was a monastery of the Cistercian Order, established in a valley north of Dinas Bran in 1200 AD.  Traditionally, the Cistercian monks were supportive of the Welsh Princes.  By the Reformation, the Abbey fell into disuse and disrepair.   “Valle Crucis (Valley of the Cross) takes its name from from Eliseg’s Pillar nearby, which would already have stood for nearly four centuries when the abbey was established in 1201. The new foundation was a Cistercian house, a ‘daughter’ of Strata Marcella, near Welshpool; its patron was Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor, ruler of northern Powys. So that the abbey could enjoy solitude required by the order, the existing settlement of Llangwestl was removed to Stansty, north-west of Wrexham. …The abbey suffered a serious fire soon after its founder’s death in 1236; traces of burning are visible on the Read more…